Teen Who Amassed Twitter Followers Claims Business Partner Stole Branding Rights
Posted May 17, 2011 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A teen who amassed more than 300,000 Twitter followers in less than a year claims in a federal lawsuit that his business partner deceived him into turning over his intellectual property.
The 17-year-old teen, Adorian Deck, tweeted celebrity gossip and oddball news under the name @OMGFacts, the Associated Press reports. The defendant is Emerson Spartz, 24, the founder of a popular Harry Potter website called mugglenet.com. Spartz bought the trademark to @OMGFacts and showcased the Twitter feed as part of his media company that oversees a network of sites targeted to a young audience.
Deck claims he received only $100 and a promise of a share of any profits from merchandising and a related YouTube channel, according to a report on the suit last month by Hollywood, Esq. The contract also assigned to Spartz the copyright to existing and future works, the suit says.
The dispute, AP says, is not as much about rights to the tweets as it is about “who owns the rights to the potentially lucrative OMG Facts brand.” Deck claims the contract is unconscionable and unenforceable, partly because he was a minor when he signed it.
Since Spartz partnered with Deck, @OMGFacts grew from about 400,000 to nearly 1.9 million followers. Deck’s mother was a co-signer, Spartz says. Spartz maintains his company built the Twitter account and wrote nearly every tweet. (Deck denies that he stopped tweeting.)
"Mr. Deck has hardly lifted a finger throughout most of the growth of OMG Facts, but people have been telling him he's a genius for so long now that he's starting to believe it," Spartz told AP.